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When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Blu-ray Front CoverAn utterly charming and delightfully restrained tale of teenage powers.

What They Say:
The origin of the Senko High School Literature Club’s powers might be a little sketchy, and they may spend more time chatting than engaging in superhuman feats. Still, there’s no questioning the incredible abilities of the club’s female members: Tomoyo can control time; Hatoko is a mistress of the elements; Chifuyu can create matter; and Sayumi can return any item to a previous state. With these powers, there are few tasks these girls can’t handle.

Meanwhile, Jurai, the club’s only male member, has a dark flame that seems a little pointless in comparison, and only time will tell if it matures into anything more useful. Toss in a Student Council president who’s developed powers of her own and things are about to get seriously weird as the study of literature takes a comic book turn in When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with a newly created English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The serie sis one that’s fairly dialogue heavy when you get down to it but it brings in some fun action and effects along the way thanks to the powers that the cast has. The elements have some nice directionality to it and impact along the way, though they don’t go over the top with it which is something that works in its favor. The movement across the stage is well handled when needed and this carries over to the dialogue as well when you get the couple of running sequences and the like. There’s some good placement throughout as we get the characters standing at different positions on the stage often and it flows well as it moves between them. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this set are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by studio Trigger, the series has a really great look to it that just pops off the screen with the color quality. The transfer really brings that side to life and it makes the project even more engaging because of it. The vibrancy helps to smooth out the way the action works as we get some pretty fluid sequences here with the powers but we also get some nicely detailed but not overdone character designs. They, like the backgrounds, have a solid and problem free look about them as the show unfolds. The backgrounds aren’t done in a skimpy way so there’s plenty to take in there to ground the show and the characters, while almost always wearing their uniforms, stand out well with the attention to detail they’re paid. It’s a very good looking release overall whose transfer brings it to life wonderfully.

The packaging design for this release uses a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover works with the familiar full cast key visual piece, which is actually a welcome one because it does include the lead male character from it, something these kinds of shows tend to not do. While it goes with a kind of bland background that doesn’t really let the character artwork stand out much, I like the designs as we get them and the kind of awkward positioning of the cast – though poor Kudo, she deserved better. THe logo along the top works in a cute enough fashion with its font and color design, making it a cover that stands out just enough. The back cover gives us a little bit of cute Hatoko fanservice along the left while the right breaks down the shows premise in a clean way, gives us a few shots of the sillier sides of it, and lists the extras, episodes, and number of discs in a very clear form. The production credits round out the bottom along with the standard technical grid that lists everything cleanly and accurately so you know what’s involved in the release. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for the release works with a simple static image design where the right side has different cast configurations for each disc where the girls are cute and it has an upbeat feeling about it. The backgrounds work similar to the cover with a kind of bland piece of layout material but it does work with some brighter colors that gives it a little more pop. The navigation is kept along the left where we get the breakdown of episodes by number and title, which uses a mix of blues and whites with a touch of green. It essentially riffs off of aspects of the series logo, which is here as well, and has a vibrant kind of feeling about it. Everything is quick to load and works well as both a pop-up menu and as the main menu.

The only extras included in this set are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Kota Nozomi with artwork by 029, When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is known originally as Inou Battle Within Everyday Life. The light novels ran from 2012 to 2016 with twelve volumes, so the anime adaptation came around the halfway mark of the books run which is pretty good. What we get here does largely work as a kind of opening chapter in a larger story setting but it also feels fairly well complete in some ways. When this series was simulcast I didn’t pay it much mind because it had the kind of awkward series name about it and admittedly little about it stood out in the previews. Thankfully, taking the show in as a marathon session has revealed a very fun show that does a lot right and delivers on what it intends to.

The show revolves around a standard kind of premise where we’re introduced to the Literature Club at Senko High. Like a lot of these clubs it’s made up of one guy and four girls with a fifth that sneaks in along the way. The club itself doesn’t really factor into it much because it’s not about literature. No, what we get is a lead male in Jurai Ando that’s essentially a high school chuunibyou, one of the worst things in existence. The others kind of tolerate him since they’ve known him for varying amounts of time and you kind of hope he grows out of it. Unfortunately, within the first few minutes of the show a seemingly dramatic event comes from Ando’s dramatics that causes them all to suddenly gain superpowers. It’s like Ando’s dream has become reality in a big way and you can easily see where it’s going to go from there.

Well, sort of. In fact, the show takes a surprisingly welcome turn here as it essentially flash forwards six months later where we learn that the group has been practicing in private with their abilities in monthly meetings with each other and have mastered the basics. Tomoyo can change the speed of time, Hatoko can use the four elements to do all sorts of neat tricks, Sayumi can heal and restore things and Chifuyu has the power of creation itself. Ando, unfortunately, has a power that he calls Dark and Dark that’s a purple flame from his right hand but is weak and ineffective, capable of nothing – until the final minutes of the series, of course. His being unable to do anything for most of the show is actually a lot of fun because everyone gets a dream power that they weren’t looking for but he gets the short end of the stick.

What a lot of the series does is work the idea of the club theme but with the kids having powers and just having fun messing with each other. There’s a lot to like in the interplay between them since it does nudge alongside the idea that they’re all interested in Ando to some degree but it can take some time before they realization hits. By giving them six months or so of practice we avoid all the usual initial learning aspects as well and instead have them capable of using them and expanding upon them. This avoids the fast powerup over the course of a shorter period of time in a way and makes the exploration of unique ways to expand what they can do fun, such as Sayumi’s restoration powers being really neat or how Hatoko learns to combine elemental aspects. It’s also enjoyable because Ando, having grown up being into all the usual anime, light novels, and all sorts of geeky things from across time and space, works with them in growing their abilities while hoping his takes shape as well. He’s encouraging and positive about it even when they’re kind of blase about the whole experience since they’re not totally into it. I even like that he has some important background things mentioned, such as telling Chifuyu not to create life because that would be going too far.

The show doesn’t spend all of its time on this as it wants to tell a bit of a bigger story but this is kind of awkwardly handled as it’s something that looks to really be a part of later material. There are a lot of other people with powers out there that seem to have had them for some time and there’s a kind of war brewing between two sides. Some of these have connections to the group here in Senko High and there’s a sort of protection going on to keep them out of it. There are a number of characters introduced from the two sides but most of them really don’t register much because they’re almost one-off pieces jockeying for position with the leaders of the respective groups. The idea of a background war drawing in the Senko kids isn’t bad, particularly since those like Chifuyu and Sayumi have some powers that are definitely sought after, but it’s the kind of subplot that either needed to be more involved in a better way or just kind of minimized even more than it was.

The main fun here is just in watching the characters work and interact with each other since there’s a decent bit of familiar variety to them. Ando’s over the top but he doesn’t become obnoxious with what he’s like in being a chuunibyou. What I also appreciated is that they don’t overplay the fanservice elements. A show like this could really make a big thing out of it with lots of skin, cleavage shots, panty shots, and all the other usual bits. Instead, it’s hugely restrained in that regard and only plays lightly at the fanservice and never gratuitous. Even the indoor water park episode is highly restrained with what it does and it doesn’t spend its time ogling or gazing heavily at the characters, opting more for fun and silliness than anything else. This made the characters quite enjoyable because it’s about them, not their outfits or physical attributes. They’re there but they’re not the focus.

In Summary:
I had little idea what to expect with the show beyond something familiar and predictable going into it with how it’s presented. What I got was a show that was a lot more fun than I expected with some great looking animation and designs that made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It’s one that I can even imagine enjoying more on a weekly basis than in marathon form as well because there are so many little things to explore and fun with the powers and expansions there. This release makes out even better for a lot of fans with the inclusion of a fun and silly dub that hits all the right notes and a great looking transfer that takes the animation and kicks it up a few more notches. This is definitely one to keep an eye on and add to a collection.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening and Closing Animations

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 30th, 2016
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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